A Wicklow man who sexually abused his younger sister during their childhood attacked her for the final time 10 years later while she was heavily pregnant, the Central Criminal Court heard.
The now 71-year-old man, who can not be named to protect his victim's anonymity, was on Monday given a nine-year sentence with the final year suspended.
The court heard the man had stopped raping his sister when she was 14 for fear of getting her pregnant but continued to indecently assault her until she met the man she later married.
As a child she when she had attempted to tell her parents what was happening to her but was disbelieved and severely beaten.
The accused man was convicted by a jury of 69 counts of indecent assault and rape at the family home in Co Wicklow, on dates between 1964 and 1973. The final indecent assault occurred in 1983.
The man was aged between 12 and 21 years old at the time of the majority of the offences and his victim was aged between 10 and 19 years old. He was aged 31 when he assaulted her the final time.
Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the woman had lived “a horrible existence” during the years of the abuse and the devastation to her was clear.
He noted that while assaulting his sister in the family home the accused man was also under the age of 18 years old for the majority of the time so special considerations applied.
“But there is no doubt on the evidence he knew what he was doing was very wrong,” he said, noting the man had used the fact that she was not believed “as a weapon for compliance".
He said the accused had taken full advantage of his authority over the younger sister he was supposed to be minding and only stopped when she met a boyfriend who was bigger than him.
Mr Justice McDermott noted the probation report said the man says he is not guilty but that he accepted the verdicts. He said there was little or no sincere remorse, and he had demonstrated no real insight into his offending, apart from acknowledging his sister must have been affected.
The judge said the accused had led a “blameless life” since his thirties and had medical issues.
He noted the man’s caring, loving and supportive family, some of whom wrote letters to the court.
He said it was one of the sad features of these cases that when abuse was exposed it inevitably had an effect on family life and relationships, in this case leaving the injured parties normal family relationships completely ruptured in the short and long term.
Mr Justice McDermott said the blame for the damage and negative consequences lies fully with the offender who carried them out.
Mr Justice McDermott imposed a variety of consecutive and concurrent sentences for the various offences totalling nine years and suspended the final 12 months on strict conditions.
An investigating garda told Gerardine Small SC, prosecuting, that the accused had forced his sister to have sex with him on a weekly basis from the age of 10 years old. He stopped raping her when she was 14 years old due to fear of pregnancy but continued to force her to engage in sexual acts.
The abuse stopped when she met the man who was to become her husband but the accused indecently assaulted her a final time when she was heavily pregnant, pushing her into a corner and masturbating in front of her until she pushed him out of the way and got out a back door.
Damien Colgan SC, defending, outlined a probation report before the court in which his client accepts the verdict saying there was “no point complaining about it” and acknowledged he engaged in some sexual inappropriate behaviour but denied raping his sister.
Counsel said the man accepts his sister has been badly effected. He has no previous convictions.
Mr Colgan handed in a large number of testimonials and medical reports. He said his client has been assessed as at medium risk of reoffending and will take advantage of services available to him.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.